For more information about the multi-channel arts organisation Bloomers visit @bloomers.art or bloomersart.com. The new issue of Bloomers magazine ‘Issue 06: Hypertext’ can be purchased online via the above social-media handles or in person at The Library Project and The Crawford Art Gallery bookshop.
Existing: in many forms
“Here I am – Old Betty Boop whoopsing behind the skull”
Allen Ginsberg- Television was a baby crawling toward that death chamber1
In school, I remember the absolute glee we felt when we discovered that our substitute teacher had a Bebo page and was a member of the fan page ‘I ❤ UGGS’. Fifteen, giddy and not fully understanding irony, we delighted at the idea that this man before us, who occupied the position of teacher- of authority – had a whole other persona that existed purely (as far as we could tell) online. The classroom was humming with a surreal reality … the teacher-student conventional structure had been ruptured. We were through the looking glass.
The new issue of Bloomers ‘Hypertext’ contains several essays that explore our relationship with the digital sphere. Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, creative director, Enid Conway invites writers to respond to the idea of the cyborg as envisioned by Donna Haraway in ‘Cyborg: A Manifesto’. The texts and artworks explore ‘ the interface between the organism and technology and our acceleration toward the digital sphere’. Contributors such as Lily O’ Shea and Theo Hynan-Ratcliffe ask demanding questions. Lily’s essay Collaborative Survival in Precarious Times explores an anti-capitalist future and concludes ‘there can be no commons without community.’ While Theo’s essay Speculative Freedom: Othered considers that there might be a liberation to be found in recreating the female form in the digital sphere – perhaps a new narrative could be created? The issue raises questions about technology’s role in shaping our future. The utopian vision of ‘cyberspace’ has been corrupted by the structures of our capitalist world embedding itself dominatingly into the framework of the internet. The optimism of John Perry Barlow’s manifesto A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace has long been laid to rest. Trump’s wave of ‘Law & Order!’ tweets, with the ghostly rattle of WWII radio waves, can’t even find the coffin to hammer in the nail. I am reminded of Hannah Arendt ,‘a political realm does not automatically come into being wherever men live together’. In many ways the internet is merely a mirror of our existence, even a diluted-down version of reality that causes us to cling to our already established labels – our femaleness (or as increasingly more dating apps are requiring – our liberalism/conservatism) – as our identifier in the drop-down menu boxes of our existence.
When I think of my relationship with the online world, I think of the Simon & Garfunkel song ‘Sounds of Silence’.
‘Hello darkness my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again’. I send things out into the void with a tender forehead kiss and watch it float down the river Styx into the wells of silence.
Last week, my co-worker was flicking through her phone as we experienced the 11am retail lull. ‘Oh’ she said, looking up suddenly ‘I saw that video you posted of you doing a reading on Instagram’. I felt like the colour white, blood ran from my face to my legs, as though the more of it that gathered in my lower limbs the better equipped I would be to run – run far, far away. My voice sounded from her phone; uncanny – like the narrator of nightmares. Not here, not now, not when I’m wearing my fucking name badge. A customer wandered into the shop and Emma was forced to stop playing the video. I breathed a sigh of relief – ahh the customer is King.
I wondered later what my problem had been. It went beyond the usual anxiety of watching someone watch you, hearing your impossibly high-pitched voice ( I can only apologise) echoing back at you. Had I been in an ‘art-setting’ – my studio, a talk etc.- I would not have experienced the same existential dread. Sure, it would have been uncomfortable but not terrifying. I felt like Sartre’s waiter. In that space I was a retail worker and denied all other forms of my existence, I had – as they say- ‘compartmentalised’. My internet self didn’t exist here, nor did my artistic self. I was wearing my uniform and my name badge and I was working in sales. Oscar Wilde said that in all aspects of existence, form is the creator of life.2 In this particular form I am patient and helpful and most of all assured. My Instagram form was small and impatient, eager to echo her thought. Zadie Smith gives an interesting take on the Facebook format for life in her essay Generation Why?3
‘Shouldn’t we struggle against Facebook? Everything in it is reduced to the size of its founder. Blue, because it turns out Zuckerberg is red-green colour-blind. “Blue is the richest color for me – I can see all of blue.” Poking, because that’s what shy boys do to girls they are scared to talk to. Preoccupied with personal trivia, because Mark Zuckerberg thinks the exchange of personal trivia is what ‘friendship’ is. A Mark Zuckerberg Production indeed! We were going to live online. It was going to be extraordinary. Yet what kind of living is this? Step back from your Facebook Wall for a moment: Doesn’t it, suddenly, look a little ridiculous? Your life in this format?’
So which form should I flit to now?
What am in print form? Bound in magazine. An artist magazine?
What does print mean in slang?
to take the fingerprints of a person.
P R I N T
fix (something) firmly or indelibly in someone’s mind.
make (a mark or indentation) by pressing something on a surface or in a soft substance
transfer (a design or pattern) to a surface.
PUNCH! STAMP! (march)
Magazine: a store for arms, ammunition, and explosives for military use.
Fingerprints and arms.
Elbows and shoulders – being in print gives physical space to personhood.
Bloomers magazine is a space for new voices. In all aspects of existence form is the creator of life. The serial form of this magazine creates an infrastructure to index consciousness and a materiality to exist in the world. Thoughts and ideas that would otherwise flicker like shadows in the chambers of our minds begin to exist.
‘But they have to begin existing they exist in my poems.’ – Allen Ginsberg4
As we flit from form to form our life shrinks and expands accordingly.
‘What people call insincerity is simply a method by which we can multiply our personalities’ – Oscar Wilde. 5
As a woman I am particularly adept, if not always aware of this. We must operate in the world and as we encounter different forms of existence our life shrinks or expands accordingly.
I desire a place to expand. Somewhere where I don’t need to be categorised and I don’t need to compartmentalise-to co-exist in a community of others… but until then…
‘Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night’6
WiseUp Art Garfunkel was actually a Nazi sympathiser. My comment will probably be deleted but you can read the whole story here: http//:www.youllneverguesswhowasanazi.com
JusticeForLiam The author is giving out about the number of women working in Silicon but gives no statistics … where is she getting her information? She just made it up! also why doesnt she become a software engineer if she wants to? Women just dont want to work in enginerieng…. FACTS!!
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- Ginsberg, Allen, Television was a baby crawling towards a death chamber, Penguin Classics, 2018, p20
- Wilde, Oscar, The Critic as Artist, David Zwirner Books, 2019, p122
- Smith, Zadie, Feel Free: Essays, – “Generation Why?”, Hamish Hamilton, 2018, p
- Ginsberg, Allen, Television was a baby crawling towards a death chamber – “Death to Van Gogh’s ear” Penguin Classics, 2018, p12
- Wilde, Oscar, The Critic as Artist, David Zwirner Books, 2019, p114
- The Truaman Show, Weir, Peter, Paramount Pictures, United States, 1998
- Rovelli, Carlo, There are Places in the Word Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness, Allen Lane, 2020
- Ginsberg, Allen, Television was a baby crawling towards a death chamber – “America” Penguin Classics, 2018, p9
- Chomsky, Noam, On Anarchism, Penguin Books Limited, 2005, p 112
- Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, The World of Perception, London; New York, Routledge, 2004:2005,
- Smith, Zadie, Feel Free: Essays, – “Generation Why?”, Hamish Hamilton, 2018, p